A sure sign of summer is the first poison ivy rash of the year. I hate it. I’m convinced that the slightest encounter with the plant will result in me contracting a rash from it. I’m convinced the wind takes over sometimes and blows the oil from the plant onto my skin. I know others feel the same.
Editor Hank Will told me his dad was so allergic to the oils in the plant that if he drove by it with his arm out the window of his truck, he'd get it. The stuff can fly.
I’ve had the allergy since I as a boy, so I’m pretty adept at identification. When in the woods, I keep my eyes peeled and do everything possible to avoid it, only to develop an itch and a rash days later.
It was Monday of last week – two days after we’d found the morel mushrooms at my mom’s – when I started to itch and experience the familiar symptoms. By Saturday, it was still lingering on my arms, but I felt like it was fading fast. I wasn’t scratching it in my sleep, and the rash was getting smaller.
Then Saturday afternoon I went for a hike, 2 ½ miles one way, back through the Clinton Lake trails to get to a fishing hole. The trail is beautiful (I was after crappie, but if you want to fish in noncontiguous Lake Henry for trout, buy a trout permit before you go).
As you can see in the pictures, the trail is pretty clear, so I shouldn’t have been brushing up against poison ivy while walking on the trail. However, I was hunting morels and probably wasn’t as attentive to green foliage as I should have been the entire time. So, as I type this, the poison ivy rash on my right forearm is oozing, which means it may spread. Back to square one.
Still, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was great to get out in the woods for a long hike, feel the spring air, work up a sweat, stop to fish and reluctantly hike back to the paved world.
For identification purposes, my brother Andy likes to say, “Leaves of three, let it be.”
And no, I caught no crappie, just a perch and a rash. But it was still fulfilling.
Is there anything that makes you dread spring and summer, and, more importantly, how do you overcome or subdue those things in order to get out and do the things you love to do?